Museum Invites Citizens to Create Community Textile Canoe Project

‘The healing balm (art) manufactures is simply in the act of being and working together'

From weaving fabric remnants to words together in conversation, Peterborough citizens are invited to gather, connect and create a large piece of canoe art this weekend.

The Textile Canoe is a participatory art project that involves weaving, tying, pulling, wrapping, knitting and sewing textiles to create a 14-foot canoe. The finished project culminates in a temporary exhibit in the Canadian Canoe Museum, where the project’s sessions are also being held.

Karen Taylor, director of programs at the Canadian Canoe Museum, works with a team of colleagues to provide different ways for visitors to experience the museum. She’s delighted to have Vanessa Coplan, an Ottawa-based fiber and mixed media artist, at the helm of the Textile Canoe project, which is an important community initiative for Peterborough, Karen says.

“There are so many benefits of bringing people together for art — conversation, working with your hands and making something that is bigger than each of us — I could go on and on,” Karen tells Electric City Magazine.

“The artist, Vanessa, says working in collaborative, community art led her to see ‘the importance of bringing together bits and pieces to make a whole (patches that are sewn together to make a blanket) and the act of mending as it fosters cohesion, strength and bonds in fabric and amongst artists working side-by-side on a creative endeavour. The healing balm this manufactures is simply in the act of being and working together.’”

The Textile Canoe project is suitable for participants aged eight to adult. Younger children will be encouraged to take part with parent/guardian supervision and assistance. Those who participate can bring their own fabric pieces or use what the museum has on hand for the project.

A few sessions have been held so far. Here are the next opportunities for citizens to take part:

  • Aug. 31 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  • Sept. 1 from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
  • Sept. 2 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Those interested in creating the Textile Canoe can drop in during any of the workshop times. Organizers suggest each person devotes at least 45 minutes to take part.

Space is limited. For those who’d like to reserve a spot, call Karen at 705-748-9153, extension 219.

The program director says the best thing that could happen is having the Textile Canoe bring people together to create, collaborate and produce something of which each person can take ownership.

“At the museum, we are all about sharing the stories of the watercraft, or, more specifically, the stories of the people all over the world who make, build and paddle them. With the Textile Canoe, participants add their stories to this collaborative sculpture and to our museum.

“I always love to think of our visitors seeing themselves and their stories in the exhibits here. With this project, so many people can say — I made that part.”


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